Quantitative vs. Qualitative: Integrating survey data


Survey work, and more broadly, employee research, has historically been informed almost exclusively by quantitative data. Across work within organizations, applied research, and theoretical research, the use of quantitative methods overwhelm that of qualitative methods. Said another way, we love our surveys and rating scales. This is evident not just in the way that practitioners gather and analyze data in organizations, but also the journal articles produced by academics, and the training graduate students receive.

Quantitative data and methods provide rigor and insight that are crucial to driving change within organizations at scale, but are not enough. As organizations become more complex, the questions we ask and the data we use to address those questions also become more complex. We might easily gather if employees feel positive or negative on a particular topic, or if those opinions have improved or declined, but often we are missing the all important ‘why.’ Qualitative data, such as text comments, blog posts, passive data across social media, etc. provide deep description of nuance needed to understand the complexity of the answers to the questions we ask. If tools and resources are rated negatively on a survey, open text comments can tell us what tools are lacking, or what additional resources people need, ultimately making the results more insightful and actionable.

There is a need to recognize the strengths qualitative data can provide, especially when integrated with quantitative data. Our data sources are becoming bigger and more varied – we have a multitude of quantitative (opinion scores, turnover statistics, performance ratings) and qualitative (survey comments, blog posts, internal communications) data. Each are valuable on their own, but more powerful when synthesized to tell the full story.

For those who will be attending the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) conference in April, I invite you to join us for an insightful panel on this issue. Practitioners from a variety of organizations will share examples of how they integrate qualitative and quantitative data for greater impact. The panel is entitled, "Best of Both Worlds: Integrating Qualitative/Quantitative in Surveys," and will be held on April 6, 2019 from 11:30 AM to 12:20 PM, Room Maryland C.

We also invite you to join OrgVitality at our reception

on Friday, April 5th, at 7 pm, in Chesapeake I

RSVP Today

Dr. Victoria Hendrickson is a partner at OrgVitality and author of Needle in the Haystack: Finding and Acting on the Most Useful Survey Comments. Dr. Hendrickson conducts research on survey comments, organizational ambidexterity, and innovation. Her recent research has led to the development of OV VOICE, the Value-Optimized, Intelligent Comment Extractor, an-AI inspired tool that identifies the most useful and meaningful comments. For more information, contact Dr. Hendrickson directly.

Other SIOP Presentations from the OrgVitality Team:

Keeping up with workplace demographics:

Preparing for Gen Z

Dr. Scott Brooks

April 5 10:00 - 11:20, Room National Harbor 10-11

Beyond Neurotypical:

Maximizing Performance Through Diverse Talent Management

Dr. Walter Reichman

April 5 4:00 - 4:50, Chesapeake A-C

Changes in the Employee Survey Landscape

Dr. Scott Brooks

April 6 8:00 - 9:20, Room Potomac 1-2

Whose World is it Anyway?

Life of a Female Practitioner with a Master's vs PhD

Sertrice Grice, MA

April 6 1:30 PM - 2:20 PM, Room Potomac 3-4

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